Category: Activities


Digging into Expression Engine

November 1st, 2014 — 7:20pm

Recently I started working on a rather large project using Expression Engine by Ellis Labs.  This is a CMS development system built on CodeIgniter, a php mvc framework.  At first impression, EE is very easy to use for creating data relationships (using channels and channel fields).  This facilitates building somewhat complex websites, managed through the admin interface.  It also has a robust user permission system, which makes it easy to grant access to various users.

Where EE requires a bit of a learning curve, is on the “front end” templating system.  Those looking for an easy way to throw in php code and get to work, will encounter some frustration.  Start by studying the “parsing order” of the templates, to understand how things work.  The good news is that you can add php in there to handle complex tasks, but it takes some understanding of how Expression Engine handles the template tags first.  After some study and experimenting, you can start getting things done.

EE relies heavily on modules and plugins, many of which cost money.  Overall, these can be savers and even added to the cost of Expression Engine itself, still worth the money.  However, I do wish a bit more was built into EE out of the box – sometimes it seems like relatively simple features require an add on.

One drawback to EE is the overhead required.  Even relatively simple tasks take 20+ mysql queries to build.  EE has a nice Profiler built in to see what queries are being executed.  You can cache templates to help with this overhead, but sometimes it’s laughable to see a simple task executing so many queries.

Overall, EE is a nice platform, and user friendly.  I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of it’s power and flexibility.  It does, however, feel almost like learning a new programming language.

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Weekly Wrap Up – codeigniter!

May 29th, 2013 — 2:38pm

It’s not the end of the week, but I’ve missed a few weeks now, so I thought I’d catch up.  Here’s what I’ve been doing:

CodeIgniter – A new client has a custom CMS written using CodeIgniter.  This is a fairly popular php framework that several of my clients use.  It’s pretty nice to use – follows the normal MVC architecture.

Sunshop – I did some custom work to tweak the way Sunshop makes its SEO friendly URL’s.

In addition, the normal php and perl work rounded out my schedule.

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Weekly wrapup – site redesign, adobe connect

April 12th, 2013 — 8:27am

This week’s highlight was the launch of a redesigned site for a good client – hardwaresource.com.  This new look makes the site more user friendly and visually appealing.  I turned it live early one morning, moving the files around, and keeping downtime minimal.  No matter how many cutovers I do, there’s always the concern that something goes wrong.  In this case, things went very smoothly, with few hitches.

I’ve also been working more with Adobe Connect.  This is a high end offering for online meetings, training, webinars, and self-paced training and testing.  It’s very comprehensive.  I’ve been doing a lot with the API, mostly to pull data for use with other applications.  It competes in a crowded space (eg. WebEx), but I’m surprised how many features and capabilities the product has.

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Image Gallery code and new site

March 22nd, 2013 — 5:06pm

Here’s my weekly wrap up of activities for the week.

I added gallery functionality just in time for the Drinker’s Choice awards article.  The image bar along the top uses some jquery, and of course there’s lots of php / mysql on the back end.

Another new site using WordPress – this one pretty small, but nice, using a responsive design template – Pharm-spend.com.

As an aside, I’m doing more WordPress sites lately and enjoying the platform and plugins.

The rest of the week included some perl scripting, nothing I can show here, but believe me, it was good stuff.  I also did a fair amount of Sunshop work – hacking it up, upgrading, you name it, I did it.

That’s about it for a busy week.  I’m ready for a rest!

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Rocky site move to GoDaddy

March 15th, 2013 — 2:45pm

Here’s my work log for the week of March 11, 2013:

– I moved an ecommerce website running Sunshop from 1&1 to Godaddy. The move was precipitated by 1&1’s decision to only support php 5.4 come April, which many programs, including Sunshop, do not currently support. The move was a bit rocky, because getting the SSL certificate working correctly took GoDaddy way to long! We worked around it, though and otherwise the move went pretty smoothly.  This contrasts with another customer service experience…see below.

– Another client with several ecommerce sites (again Sunshop) was having issues with timeouts, and also some SSL certificate trust problems.  The hosting provider Knownhost, provided excellent support, and stuck with us until the issues were resolved.  I learned a lot about CA Intermediate certificates in the process.  Knownhost now joins my favorite hosting providers: Rackspace and Liquidweb.   All provide amazing service.

– I helped a new client with some emergency work getting an authorize.net script working, for taking payments online.

– The week rounded out with a lot of php and perl programming.  Overall it was very busy week.

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